1. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Any musicians in the house?

    Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by thirdwind, Jul 26, 2013.

    I know there are a few of you who play instruments, and I thought it would be nice to discuss anything related to instruments with some of you guys. What instruments do you guys play? How long have you been playing for?

    I started taking piano lessons about 2 years ago, but there's still a lot of room for improvement. I'm working on learning Pachelbel's Canon in D at the moment. I've also played guitar before, though I've never really practiced, so I'm bad.

    I also like to think that I'm an OK singer, but my family doesn't agree. :(
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've been a guitarist for forty years, and a singer for longer. On the guitar, I progressed through pop and rock to jazz, which was too hard, then back to rock, then to folk and folk-rock, which is where I am now. The music is simple but deep and I like that. Currently I have a Stratocaster, a six-string acoustic, and a twelve-string acoustic (which is my BABY). I have two other guitars, but they're up in Toronto at my sister's house and I get to visit them once a year.

    As a singer, I had very little technique for decades, but I had a strong voice. I've only been working on technique over the past ten years or so, and I'm getting better. I'm almost fifty-two now, so I don't sound like the bright-voiced teenager I once was, but the rasp and growl that come with age works well for the songs I sing these days.

    I took piano lessons as a kid, so I know what to do with a keyboard, but I don't practice it and I'm terrible at it.

    We had lots of musical instruments in the house when I was growing up, and I learned to play them all with varying degrees of skill. We had a banjo, a flute, several recorders and penny whistles, a concertina, my dad's violin, some harmonicas, a Caribbean steel drum, a ukulele, and a tenor saxophone I eventually swapped for a Telecaster because, while I love the sound of the sax, it was ruining my teeth. I never mastered the required embouchure.

    We lost all these instruments when my parents got divorced in the mid 80s, so I can't say I play any of them anymore. I had a lot of fun with them when I was a kid, though.
     
  3. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I play the trombone. :D I started when I was 14 or so, and I managed to get a grade 5 merit before I left school. I'm finding it hard to continue, however, as school gave plenty of opportunities for orchestras and bands, but as most orchestras outside of school play on Sundays and I am a Christian, it's getting pretty hard striving for anything. Of course I play in my church, but that's not exactly challenging, is it? :p

    I did have an amazing experience when I was 17 going on 18, though: being part of a Cretian tattoo! We marched and played with the singer Peter Karrie, who used to be the Phantom of the Opera in London a few years back. 10 days we were there, and I'll never forget it. And the videos are up on youtube as well, so those memories aren't going anywhere. :)
     
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  4. Lydia
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    Lydia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I play guitar, but I don't practice enough so I'm not that great. Besides that, I've been singing for as long as I can remember. People usually like my voice, but of course there's always room for improvement.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I find that more mature voices are great for certain songs. I recently watched some videos from the 1990s of Art Garfunkel singing live, and I prefer that voice over his voice from the 60s and 70s. I also really like the way he sang "The Sound of Silence" live in a 2009 concert.
     
  6. Oswiecenie
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    Oswiecenie Active Member

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    Another guitarist here. I started when I was 12, lost interest when I was 17 and took it up again a couple of months ago after a break of almost 4 years.
     
  7. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've played classical guitar since I was 6, the electric guitar more seriously since I was 20 or so, and drums since I was around 12, but I'd say the electric guitar is my main instrument even though I believe I'm a better classical guitarist / drummer.

    I write / arrange the songs and most of the lyrics for my band, Niavka. We play a mix of rock, funk, and metal with a dose of renaissance music and prog rock / metal thrown in for good measure. Here's one of the songs we recorded (WARNING: LYRICS CONTAIN SOME PROFANITY):

    Niavka - Happiness

    I think this song represents our style the best of the five pieces we recorded even though our newer material, which we'll start recording tomorrow, has already moved on and while the songs are a bit longer and the arrangements a bit more complex, they are more readily approachable even for the casual listener.

    [guitar nerd speak]I used my slightly modified 60s Classic Telecaster for most of the guitar parts on those songs, even the fake acoustic stuff. We tried recording them with my nylon string Ramirez, which has a great, clear tone, but it just didn't sit in as well with the rest of the mix as the neck pup of the Tele (armed with Dimarzio's Area T and their Chopper T bridge pick-up so it can do anything from jazz to funk to metal). For the heavier parts, I doubled up the tracks with KaTrian's Epi SG which I bought for her as a wedding gift. We tried out several of them as well as other SGs of various makes and models, but this particular one just had an amazing tone with the stock pups, especially with some distortion and the neck is just a joy to play (yup, I'm a little jealous of her axe). I think it's got something to do with the fact that it has full-size humbuckers while my Tele's are stacked.[/guitar nerd speak]

    Right now I'm brushing up my drumming because we parted ways with our old drummer, so I'll handle the drum parts in the studio. I'm so excited since even though I've done my best to keep up my technique, independence, touch etc, I haven't recorded drums in almost 10 years, but I'll post the new material somewhere here as soon as we get to the mixing stage. Another reason why I'm so hyped about this is that I've always wanted to record drums for my own songs, something I've never done before even though I've played drums for well over a dozen bands (none signed, though).

    Oh, I also play in a classical guitar trio with my dad and sister (my dad's a guitar teacher, so no surprise me and my sis also picked up the instrument). Here's an old recording of our rendition of one of Enrique Granados's most beautiful pieces:

    Danza Espanola No.2

    Needless to say, I'm still a rank amateur and in constant need of more practice. :D
     
  8. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's a classic amp. Does it have greenbacks or the blue Celestions? I listened to some of your stuff and you got some pretty nice guitar tones there, esp. liked it near the end of Interlude for Winter Blues. Nice tremolo and just a bit of hair around the edges.

    Looking at my rig, I hadn't even realized that my pedal board had grown quite large over the years (relatively speaking) until my dad pointed it out when he checked out my setup at my and KaTrian's wedding (where, contrary to traditions, I played a couple of songs with my band).

    It used to be just a distortion (first an MXR Distortion +, then a RAT2, and now a Boss MD-2, so far the most versatile distortion box I've found in and close to its price range), a wah (the basic Crybaby), and a chorus (had to get the Boss CE-5 for the more "extreme" chorus tones... and because John Scofield uses one), but over a longer period of time I've added a tuner (Boss TU-2), a clean boost (a Rocktron Nitro, which I got as a bd present from KaTrian a few years back. This one has saved my ass dozens of times when we haven't had the chance to do a proper soundcheck and the guitar ends up swallowed by the bass and drums, so I just stomp on this baby and I'm good to go; it has enough output to break amps and I've never even dialed it past 9 o'clock. The tone is great too, because it stays clean if you position it in the right place in your chain and it adds just a hint of mids to give your sound a bit more body), a compressor (Boss CS-3) to keep things nice and even when we do the more extreme jumps in some songs (like going from all out metal into faux acoustic renaissance diddling), a digital delay for the traditional delay stuff as well as all those weird, spacy sounds you get when you tweak the repeat knob in echo mode (I chose the Ibanez DE-7 not only for its versatility, but it's ability to produce amazing, beautiful, ear-shattering oscillation), and, lastly, a noise suppressor (the most basic, run of the mill Boss NS-2), which I've found to be a life saver in small clubs where we still need to play loud.
    Come to think of it, I've gotten about half of my pedals from KaTrian. Gotta love a woman who understands a man with GAS. :D

    I've noticed that gear-wise, I'm the exact opposite of my band's bass player: pretty much everything he has is custom (including his 8-string bass and his soon-to-be 12-string monster which'll prolly end up being the size of a small car) whereas I like everything as stock as possible. I just love the idea that if something breaks, I could walk into the nearest music store and buy a new one.
    Of course the DE-7 isn't made anymore, but I'd manage just as well with the basic Boss DD-3 (tried it, liked it, couldn't afford it, but found a great deal on the DE-7 on eBay). The only reason I swapped the pick-ups on the Tele was that its tone was a tad too tinny for the harder stuff and the originals weren't that good anyway (being on a student budget back then, I couldn't afford a better guitar, especially since instruments are insanely expensive over here: what costs $1000 in the States, costs around $1600 here) and changing the pick-ups was much cheaper than getting a better amp (which would cost around $1600-2500 over here).

    Besides, I don't get to play with my own amp much anyway: usually we share gigs with 1-3 other bands and few guitarists bother to bring their own amps, perhaps their own heads at most, but since I only need a good clean channel anyway, I can make do with just about any amp. Heck, I recorded our last stuff on our bass player's bass amp because it just sounded the best out of the five amps we had lying around the place at the time (except for the funk stuff, which we recorded with my H&K).
    Don't you just envy bassists, though? They have these tiny little 1000W monster amps that weigh just over 3lbs while guitarists have to lug around heads that are somewhere around 40-50lbs. The lucky bastards...
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I've been casually playing guitar and bass since my early teenage years. It's purely for pleasure, and I'm not very good. I play mostly simple grunge and alternative rock songs. I am more for listening to music than playing it, I know that. My current guitar is a 2008 Fender Stratocaster; I'm thinking, hoping to upgrade to one of those 50s style Stratocasters, like the Eric Johnson signature.

    Incidentally, Eric Johnson is my favorite guitar player.
     
  10. Southpaw2380
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    Southpaw2380 Member

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    Also a guitarist here, I've been playing for about 7 years now, the last two of which have been spent trying to get serious about it.

    I am what you would call an unhealthy effects junkie, and proud of it. I love having the versatility to play anything from Slipknot to Explosions in the Sky just by changing to a different patch or two. My pedal collection was helped along when I won a Boss GT-10 a while back. I already owned one, so you can imagine what the pedalboard looks like now ;D

    Anyways I'm always looking for new pedals to try out and new sounds to explore. I'm currently playing a lot of bluesy, Black Keys-type music so my overdrive and tremolo pedals have been getting their fair share of time in the limelight.

    I'd list my signal chain, except it involves a lot of loops and things that will just make me look crazy!

    ~~SP
     
  11. MainerMikeBrown
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    MainerMikeBrown Contributing Member

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    I would like to be able to sing. But I probably have just an average voice.
     
  12. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Ever heard of Luis Armstrong? Or Janet Joplin? Both had voices that definitely don't fit the criteria of "angelic," but both were amazing singers. Don't worry about whether your voice is good or not because it doesn't matter. What counts is how you use it.
     
  13. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'd also like to add Tom Waits to your list. That dude has a very unique voice.
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Any here interested in or know anything about Indian music at all? My Indian friend plays the tabla, and he has been telling me about their system of music, which I must say is much more sophisticated than the Western system of music.
     
  15. MainerMikeBrown
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    MainerMikeBrown Contributing Member

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    I learned how to read music when I was in the fifth grade back in 1990. Since then, I've forgotten how to read music. I should learn again, as it could help me with learning how to play musical instruments and sing.
     
  16. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I was introduced to Indian music via the Mahavishnu Orchestra / Shakti / John McLaughlin. It's a whole new world but one I'm not that familiar with. All I've really taken from Indian music so far have been a few harmonies and especially their way of looking at rhythm, like mixing rhythmic patterns in a solo / melody, e.g. if the rest of the band plays in 4/4, you play three runs of four 16ths with one 16th rest before every run and after the last one, so you end up with an illusion of playing in 10/8 on top of 4/4 even though in reality you just play sixteen 16ths (four of them being rests). McLaughlin and Cobham do this kind of thing a lot in their fills / solos. The beginning of Eternity's Breath is a good example of this (although that run's a bit more advanced, using something like groups of 9s instead of 4s or whatever).
     
  17. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Hmm, that's interesting. I haven't looked into rhythm that much. I have, however, heard examples of rests in a few Indian songs (don't remember any of the names unfortunately).

    The one thing that's really impressive is that they use microtones. To my Western ears, that just sounds strange.
     
  18. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I love Middle-Eastern, Indian music, and derivations. I love time sigs that stray from what my Westernised ears are used to. In fact, if I were to shuffle my current playlist, I'd say at least 3 out of 5 tracks don't conform to these 'norms'.

    I love tabla. I appreciate percussion in general. I have a collection of frame drums, bodráns, and a particularly nice djembe. A set of intermediate tabla is next on my list. Unfortunately, I need to get round to re-skinning the djembe, and that needs done before I start trawling the net for the tabla. Of all my drums, the djembe is my main goto. It's resonant, loud but capable of subtlety and can emit a staggering degree of tonal variation. I'd be lost without it. But... that said, the sound of tabla just hits a spot in me that nothing else does. When I get round to getting them, I'm not sure how I'll fare, given that I'm used to playing one drum at a time, but still, I love a challenge.
     
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  19. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    My friend said the tabla was pretty hard in the beginning. He was doing really basic stuff for about 6 months. He's gotten good now that he's been playing for quite a while, but by his own admission he's nowhere near as good as some of the other tabla players he has come across.
     
  20. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @thirdwind I can believe it... there's a damn sight more to drumming than slapping the skins. I had a bit of an advantage to start with. Being a guitarist primarily, I'm used to each hand working independently to a degree. And like playing guitar, muscle memory plays a huge part. Like I say to anyone trying to learn an instrument—Practice. Practice. Practice—Persevere long enough, and next thing you know, you're doing it without even having to think about it.

    When it comes to Tabla, in certain circles, you could be playing for 20 years and still be considered a relative novice. ;)
     
  21. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    In case you're interested, here's the video I watched to learn more about the tabla:


    The explanation in the beginning is in English. All I can say is that the guy playing the tabla is amazing.
     
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  22. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Excellent... thanks for that, playing it as I type. :D

    EDIT: Ah... vocalising the sound... that's how I learned to play the frame drum.
     
  23. Tara
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    Tara Contributing Member

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    I sing, but... let's just say I still have a lot to learn. I can also play keyboard/piano and guitar, but it's self taught and I don't practice enough to be good at it.
     
  24. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    That's cool. How long have you been playing the piano? I'm a piano player myself, though I haven't played in a few months because I moved and don't have a piano/keyboard.
     
  25. Tara
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    Tara Contributing Member

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    About two or three years, I believe. I have not played much for the past months though, but I'm planning to start playing again.
     

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